We got a new RV! It’s a 1999 Foretravel U320 42’. It has a tandem axle, pantograph bay doors and a monocoque chassis so it is very “bus” like. I would say it has more bus features than non bus features. The thing that makes this decidedly not a bus is that it has a fiberglass shell and the skin is not part of the structure in a meaningful way. It took us around 6 months between thinking about making this purchase and finally making this purchase. It couldn’t be taken lightly as a Foretravel costs somewhere between the same and double your average diesel pusher which costs double or more your average gas motorhome. This was certainly quite a step up from our 1998 Winnebago 32’ but the circumstances are quite different now that we have committed to fulltiming. I’m planning to do a series of posts on how we got to this point but for this post I’ll discuss the finer points of the exterior features.
A heavy duty Cummins 450HP turbo diesel engine. A Foretravel U320 generally has a far more powerful engine than other motorhomes in the class. This is similar to the Wanderlodge and prevost buses which tend to have 500HP detroit series 60 engines (similar vintage anyway) but those machines are quite a bit heavier. Thus the Foretravel U320 is known as the hotrod of motorhomes. Indeed they make a 36’ single rear axle variant that still carries the 450HP engine. I’m told it accelerates faster than many cars. Our trip out west really freaked us out. You can see that enormous Lexus toad. We like it, so we’re not getting rid of it, so we decided we want a motorhome that had capable power. With our loaded Winnebago the poor Ford 460 really started to die in the high altitudes. We crawled at down to 15mph on some mountains. It was really stressful on us and really stressful on the engine. Probably hte only reason it worked at all is because we massively upgraded the radiator before we left to a 3 row copper radiator. Temperatures were never a problem even in the hottest of weather.
Take note of that engine access. Foretravel is unique among fiberglass motorhomes for being amazingly accessible. That door is HUGE and it lifts right up with one hand. The fuel and holding tanks can all be slid out. About the most complicated service on this machine is the aquahot which is buried but accessible. The generator is also on a slide out tray.
Moving to the passenger side you can see the first of two large bays. The doors are pantograph doors. They come out a minor amount and swing vertically. This helps more than you’d think as when you’re setup you don’t need to move everything out of the way just to open the door. Also you don’t tend to hit yourself on the head with the doors, nor do you need to bend over under the door to access the bay contents as much. Each side of the large bay has what is called a Joey bed. It is an enormous heavy steel tray that slides the entire contents of the bay out for accessibility. Overkill? Perhaps, but it’s really cool. See that box on the storage bed? That is a factory installed Dometic 12v/120v dual powered compressor freezer/fridge. The unit itself costs over $600 new plus the installation cost but when you buy used things like this tend to just be thrown in and not thought much about. It can be run in fridge or freezer mode. We currently use it in freezer mode as the inside fridge is proportionally much larger than the inside freezer. It’s interesting that this coach actually has a good bit less bay storage space than other 32’ Winnebago, How is this possible? Winnebago was VERY clever with the bay storage considering the limitations, and the Foretravel loses space due to larger tanks, tandem axle, more batteries, etc. Ours is particularly interesting as it has a factory installed second water tank. This means it has over 200 gallons of freshwater capacity while having the same sized black/gray tanks. This seems useless to us but we weren’t going to argue.
Let’s move to the front and driver side. Similar bay and storage situation but you can see the full body paint job. This was done at Foretravel in 2010 to the tune of over $30,000 by the (insane) previous owner. It looks really good. It’s a big part of the reason we pulled the trigger on this coach versus waiting as the dealer we bought it from was pretty slimy. Here you can see the second storage bay joey bed and our storage management issues thanks to having smaller bay storage. The new motorhome came with a full compliment of accessories the prior owner no longer wanted from tow bars to add a rooms, hoses, pipes, tools tables, chairs, and more. We’ve been gradually selling things off to help defray the huge acquisition cost (and repair costs we are now encountering).
There are a few other things that are nice but not nice about this coach. It has an aquahot radiant domestic hot water/heat system that runs on diesel fuel and electric. As nice as these are, we hear a lot of reports of repairs and they are super expensive to replace, $7,000 minimum. We use the hot water portion but since our electric is included in the rent, we use the roof mounted a/c’s for heat since they include heat pump functionality as well. We’re in Florida right now so our heat needs aren’t exactly great. It has a Xantrex Prosine 2.5 inverter/charger. This is a really nice unit that has a remote control panel and tells you amp draw. It is a pure sine inverter so appliances with induction motors like fans don’t buzz and run right. Unfortunately, it also is quite expensive and has a history peppered with failures.
So that’s our new motorhome. The ultra special 42’ model of a Foretravel U320 graced with excess from all angles. From the 12kw generator to 3 roof a/c’s, this motorhome is equipped like many brand new motorhomes but has one magical feature that we sought out but nobody offers. No slides. We didn’t want the headache and problems of slides for the “fake space” that they offer (aka empty space where you can’t actually carry anything to put in said space).
Last modified: 21 October, 2014
Created: 28 February, 2014